As I’ve mentioned once or twice I spend my summers working as a counsellor at a Christian youth camp in New York. And as part of that every day we had a couple of worship sessions. One evening this summer as that was going on the worship leader Shannon instructed us to just close our eyes for a minute and listen to God (which is always a good idea by the way…).
One word came into my mind as I did that, the word RISE. And as I tried to focus, tried to listen for more no further words came. But I got this image of a guy standing crouched on a rock, up high where people could see him. He had a dark cloak on, but as I watched he cast it off and stood up tall. And as he threw the cloak off it became clear that underneath the cloak he was glowing with bright, bright light that had been hidden before.
I wasn’t sure if the word was from God, or if it was just my imagination. Maybe it was coincidence, but a few days after I heard the word ‘rise’ my shower gel ran out and I started using the new one I had bought the weekend before. And for whatever reason I had decided to grab a different type than I usually went for, attracted by its promise to “jump start your mind and body”. I hadn’t looked at the specific name of it, it was the same brand as I usually went for (and it promised me side effects of excessive female attention – contemplating suing under the trades description act about that one…). When I went to use it I looked for the first time at the name on it – Rise. There are no coincidences with God…
As I thought about it, it all began to make sense. We can so often be like that guy, crouching, hiding, covering up the light of Christ, not letting the world see it. But Jesus tells us “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15. We are not to let the love He has shown us be hidden, but we are meant to put it on display to the world. We are to be a beacon of hope to a lost and hurting world.
God has not called us to a life of crouching and hiding. He calls us to rise up and stand bold in the confidence that He is with us and He is for us. He says
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
I think so often we tend to play it too cautiously, not standing up for what we believe, not standing up and taking the opportunities that come our way to shine for God. We need to be bold and rise up, not back down. With God on our side all things are possible, no matter how it appears to us. (Philippians 4:13 reminds us that we can do “everything through Christ, who gives [us] strength”.) We need to live by that promise and take risks for God, knowing that ultimately they are not really risks for he promises to “work together everything for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28 (paraphrased slightly).
We can go through life not really standing out, not doing much, keeping quiet, not speaking up, not sharing our faith, and not living it out. But that is not how God calls us to live. He wants us to rise so that all can see, and to shine so that others may be attracted to His glory too.
“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you.
Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you.
All nations will come to your light;
mighty kings will come to see your radiance.” Isaiah 60:1-3
That thing you think God might be calling you to do? Take a risk today, rise up and just do it. Don’t hold back. Don’t cower away from it. Don’t hide the light God has given you. Stand firm. Stand tall. Stand with faith. Rise, and let the glory of the Lord shine through you today.